Yasser Abbas, a son of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, filed a $10 million lawsuit late last week against Foreign Policy Group LLC, claiming that an article published about his business dealings in Foreign Policy magazine was libelous.
Abbas and his brother Tarek Abbas were the subject of a June 2012 article in Foreign Policy by Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The article, "The Brothers Abbas," posed the question of whether the two men were "growing rich off their father's system."
In a complaint (PDF) filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on September 20, Yasser Abbas argued that the question behind Schanzer's article – whether Abbas had profited because of his father's position and "at the expense " of the Palestinian people and U.S. taxpayers – rose to the level of libel. Abbas' business ventures, according to the complaint, have included tobacco distribution, construction consulting and insurance. Abbas' brother Tarek is also referenced in the article but he isn't a plaintiff in the case.
In a statement provided by Abbas' counsel at New York's Melito & Adolfsen, Abbas said that Schanzer's article used "deliberate entailments and fabricated exposures" to mix politics with Abbas' private life. Schanzer and a spokeswoman for Foreign Policy declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
The one thing Abbas agreed with in Schanzer's article, according to the complaint, is that he's had financial success as a businessman for a number of years. But Abbas asserted that it had nothing to do with his father's leadership of the Palestinian government and that any contracts he received were justly earned.
Abbas accused Schanzer of not contacting him for comment and of relying on untrustworthy sources of information. Abbas accused Schanzer of acting with malice and pursuing an agenda against the brothers, even though he also contended that he's a private citizen and not a public figure, so we wouldn't need to prove actual malice to win.
"The [Foreign Policy] article has caused, is causing, and will cause Plaintiff to suffer injury to his standing, to his reputation and good name; and will continue to hold Plaintiff up to public scorn, hatred and ridicule," Abbas argued in his complaint. "Plaintiff worked hard his entire life to build his reputation long before his father was President of the Palestinian Authority."
As of press time, the Foreign Policy Group, which is a division of The Washington Post Company, and Schanzer didn't have counsel listed. The case is before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.